Dr. Sarah Harrison is Head of Science at Wesley College. Coupling years of classroom experience with her comprehensive research into the magnetic properties of nanoscale particles, Sarah is a teacher that our senior school students feel very lucky to have.
What do you like to do outside your time as a teacher?
In recent years, I have enjoyed hiking with my family. Our most exciting trip was walking to the top of Mt Kosciusko in NSW. We were lucky because there was still snow, so my children thought it was fantastic! Another favourite activity, which we do regularly, is to paddle between Riverton Bridge and Kent Street Weir. It doesn’t sound very exciting but that bit of the river is very quiet and you can see a lot of birds, and if you go at the right time of the year lots of baby birds. It is one of those quiet, untouched parts of Perth that we’re really lucky to have.
What makes teaching science at Wesley unique?
There are a few things and the fact that we have them all makes science at Wesley unique. The first is that the Science Department is a team, we work collaboratively so students have a consistent experience across classes. We also all share our expertise with each other. The second is that the department is staffed by really experienced educators and we have a depth of staff. There aren’t too many schools of this size who have three physics specialists. Finally, we have fantastic resources, not just our amazing building, but we are lucky to have so much equipment, which allows our students to do a lot more practical work than students in many other schools.
During this challenging time, what is one thing that you have learned from your students?
In the way they approached their online work, my students reminded me that we should never underestimate how adaptable our students are, or how willing they are to try new things. With online learning, we were only teaching Year 11 and 12 for two weeks (so only about six lessons). Physics, like all sciences, is a very practical subject and requires experimentation and investigation. If we had stayed out of the classrooms much longer I had been planning to use online simulations. I also looked into trying to do some practicals (like the efficiency of a motor practical for my Year 12’s) with a kit that students might have at home. Our online resources allowed us to do this.
If you could travel anywhere in the world safely, where would you travel?
At the moment I’d love to visit my Mum in the UK, but otherwise I’d like to visit Syria and Israel.
This article was updated in January 2022 to include Dr. Harrison’s new role as Head of Science.
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